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New & Existing Homes

We know from research that most of us as we age would prefer to remain living in our own existing homes, within our own communities.

When building a home the changing needs over time of those who will live in the home should be considered. Ideally new homes are designed that are able to provide flexibility, accessibility and adaptability to meet the changing needs of occupants over their lifetimes.

Homes should be designed to be visually attractive and also provide good quality living environments. Homes that are built following the principles of Universal Design can more easily adapt to people’s needs as they change over time. 

The location of the home is really important so that those living in it have good access to services and facilities. Age Friendly Ireland has compiled a template to help assess how suitable a location is.

Where special housing provision is necessary, e.g., for those with severe mobility difficulties necessitating the use of a wheelchair, design guidance can be found in the Universal Design Guidelines for Homes in Ireland, the Irish Wheelchair’s Association website and also in the Habinteg Housing Association publication Wheelchair Housing Design Guide.

A well-designed home should be:

  • Easy to access and circulate within.
  • Able to accommodate a range of diverse activities and allow for flexibility of use over time.
  • Have an adequate level of amenities, such as kitchen facilities, storage areas, sanitary and bathroom facilities.
  • Energy efficient, with easily operable space and water heating, and electrical or service elements.
  • Socially and environmentally sustainable, taking account of the needs of the occupants and the wider environmental impact associated with the construction and use of the home.
  • Safe and secure.
  • Meet the requirements of the Building Regulations and Planning Regulations.
  • Economic in design, providing value for money with regard to construction and the level of maintenance costs in use.

The RIAI Practice Directory lists registered architects by area. You can search the directory by practice name(if you have already identified a practice), by skill, or by location. They also have a list of top tips for working with an architect.

Other useful links

Please note that guidance from outside of Ireland may not be directly applicable to the Irish context.

  • In the UK the HousingLIN website provides a wealth of resources and research on building design and considerations. The HAPPI principles (Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation) are based on 10 key design criteria to consider when designing new homes. More information on the HAPPI principles and design resources for building homes in the community can found by visiting the Housing LIN website.


TUH Integrated Care Study

 |  Case-studies, Research

This study will explore the linkages between housing conditions and older people’s health with a view to informing housing providers and policy makers of the key components of healthy homes. …

Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme

 |  Fact sheets, Planning and regulation, Policy, Tips and tricks

The Healthy Age Friendly Homes Programme is an initiative, funded by Sláintecare, that aims to enable older people to continue living in their homes or in a home more suited to their needs, …